Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Now Enrolling: The Buttered Toast Survival School For Girls

Uh oh.  I think I’m about to do it again...

Remember a few weeks ago when I promised I’d only go political for a brief moment, and then return to more whimsical topics that don’t matter much but don’t bring anybody down?  As luck would have it, I’m a girl, so I have that handy old “fickle-minded” typecast to lean on any time I want to.  It’s one of the benefits of having a great rack.  There are others, several of which are under consideration at the legislative level.  

I can’t make sense of why, but in many conservative states (including my beloved Kansas), women’s reproductive rights and even their right to earn equal pay are under assault (that sneaky Scott Walker, Governor of Wisconsin, quietly signed a bill recently that repealed the state’s 2009 Wage Discrimination Act) and several states are considering legislation that makes it legal for insurance companies to refuse coverage of many women’s healthcare services and medications.  I spent a solid hour last night with my husband brainstorming what benefit there is to stripping a woman's reproductive rights while simultaneously making her work for less money and increasing her insurance premiums. What is with this growing network of pasty, hog-jowled (and it's improper for me not to wear a bra, but they're allowed to flap those saggy cheeks all over the nightly news?) men mainlining social power at the expense of the fiscal stability of their own states? It doesn't make sense. I understand that capitalism functions best if you can keep a significant part of the population earning a barely-living wage under the guise of upward mobility, but it doesn't make sense that you would want them to be knocked up all the time, or dying of breast cancer, or just feeling general malaise about the condition of their civil rights. You have to give the people hope, stupid! No hope = decreased productivity = no new companies are going to come to your lame, backwards state and the ones that are already there are probably going to start looking around at a more energetic population. We couldn't come up with a sensible answer to the question: why? Then our brains started to hurt so we drank beer and sang duets by the campfire. Don't worry, I went to bed happy. But I woke with the question still ringing in my ears.

Meanwhile, on the entertainment page, smart women are under constant scrutiny for the lines on their faces, or for not having them, or for what they're wearing and in what size.  If you haven’t yet read Ashley Judd’s clever rebuttal to speculation that she has had work done, please do so.  Her plea to the rest of us to change the conversation is certainly better composed and more heartfelt than anything I could write here.  When you’re done with that, pop over to the entertainment page of any major news site.  This morning on the Huffington Post, there are pictures of an actress mid-bite of a burrito (oh, that’s bad, the cow!), another freshly shellacked with bronzer and posing in a beautiful gown (oh, that’s good, we approve!) and two who are wearing the same dress 14,000 miles apart and in different seasons but we should definitely have a vote on which of them “wore it best” (oh, the one on the left for sure, she is clearly the champion dress-zipper and that other girl would do well to take a cue from her on how to fasten an eye-hook!).  Wait...  “Wore it best?”  It’s a dress.  There’s only one way to wear it.  Ooh! unless it’s one of those snazzy convertible dresses that can be reconfigured into a halter or a strapless or a skirt depending on your mood... those are fancy!  But your standard bodice-sewn-to-skirt-dress can only be worn one way.  There is no “wore it best” unless one of these women tried to tie it on as a cape and missed covering all the parts the dressmaker intended she would.  

I would submit that this so-called War on Women at the legislative level is not a coincidence.  We are tearing each other apart at street level.  The winds are shifting, sisters, and it is no coincidence. Our guard is down, and we are distracted.

Think of all the things you know how to do that someone taught you without you even noticing.  Somewhere along the way, I learned to sew buttons and mend seams.  I don’t remember where or when, but someone, presumably my mother, taught me.  At some point, I learned to brew coffee, to properly scrub a sink, to make paper dolls.  I am relatively certain that a man didn’t teach me.  (Quick shout out to my dad for teaching me to change a tire and how to make the perfect bechamel sauce!)   This homeschooling takes place all the time.  We are constantly imparting tiny bits of wisdom and training our kids in skills they’ll never unlearn.  Once you know how sew a button, you’ll always know.  It’s so empowering to master a new skill.  

I was planning on spending the summer teaching my girls the above basic skills, as well as some others, like how to apply false eyelashes (the trick is to let the glue dry a little and get sort of tacky before you stick them on), how to walk in high heels (never wear cuffed pants unless you like the taste of asphalt and the look of a fat lip), how to make the perfect mixed tape for when you get your heart broken (must include 'I Can Almost Hear You Sigh' from The Stones’ most terrible album you will ever love... Steel Wheels).  Also how to make arrowheads. You know... girl stuff.  

Instead, I guess I’d serve them better to take note of the shift in the wind, and try to prepare them for what they’ll really be dealing with in ten or fifteen years.  Here’s the curriculum I have planned:

Women’s Health:  Since many states are making a case that it’s offensive to teach anything but abstinence as a measure of birth control before and during your marriage to a person of the opposite sex, this class will incorporate the fundamentals of how to perceive sex as distasteful and perverted.  It will also cover the basics of emergency contraception, including such skills as jack-rabbit jumping jacks and the RC Cola morning after douche.

Work Ethic:  Let’s get right to it, girls.  If you’re going to have a bunch of kids, you’re going to have to feed them.  Assume that you will have no legal recourse if your employer decides to pay you 30% less than your male counterparts. You can hence assume that you will have to increase your own productivity by the same proportion.  So, instead of working 40 hours a week/50 weeks a year, you can work 52 hours a week/50 weeks a year. Or you can work 40 hours a week/65 weeks a year.  I know.  You’re going to say that there aren’t that many weeks in a year.  Doesn’t matter.  We’re girls!  Math is someone else’s business.  You just worry about which lipstick shades make your teeth look whitest and let someone else worry about math.

History:  This portion of summer school will be spent watching reruns of The Honeymooners and All In The Family.  Yes, this was a simpler time.  The good old days, when a woman stayed at home in heels and the men went off to work every morning and the kids went to school to learn things like this:


Trash Talk/Art:  If anyone has some old People and In Touch magazines, I'd love to have them for this class.  Otherwise, I guess I'll just steal them from the waiting room at the dentist, as per my usual.  We'll be cutting and pasting collages of all the ugly haircuts and learning the basics of demeaning women and increasing our competitive advantage.  For the final exam, the girls will be expected to give an oral recitation of the problem areas of each of their friends.  Bonus points will be given for making someone cry.

Moms, I have plenty of room in my summer school class, if you and your daughters would like to join us.  Maybe you have a special skill to share, like how to create a Facebook hate page for a classmate without getting caught by the principal?  Or a fun story to tell about when you were in college and how you got that stupid degree in Chemistry and you thought that maybe because you were smart, that meant you'd do your own thinking and make your own decisions, and how happy you are that these girls won't ever have to mess around with that nonsense.

1 comment:

  1. I stumbled upon your blog from one of your Sunday morning coworkers! You've had me in tears, laughing out loud, clenching my fist and thrusting it in the air in protest (with you, not against) for the last 30 minutes. Wonderful writing! Can't wait to read more of what you've got! I unfortunately can't keep my mouth shut about politics EVER! Not even at the dinner table with my staunch Republican father-in-law.